Modeling Ethnicity

Patterns of ethnic evaluation in the Indian records of Alexander’s companions and Megasthenes

Authored by: Daniela Dueck

The Routledge Handbook of Identity and the Environment in the Classical and Medieval Worlds

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415738057
eBook ISBN: 9781315686622
Adobe ISBN: 9781317415701


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Awe, disgust, and amusement—a variety of feelings and impressions—emerge from what survived as written records of the journeys of the companions of Alexander of Macedon. Clearly, any tourist or traveler shares these same reactions when confronting new places and unknown environments. It is, therefore, hardly surprising to find a mixture of attraction and repulsion emerging from watching, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching unfamiliar objects and creatures in the texts from the second half of the fourth century bce that recount Alexander’s journey into the unknown. This chapter deals exactly with these impressions, but specifically with those involving peoples. The goal presently is to reveal a possible underlying pattern for handling unusual and strange phenomena and for organizing these newly acquired impressions. Needless to say, the model suggested here derives from a modern analysis based on the ancient sources. The ancient authors probably did not phrase, even to themselves, a coherent model as such; at the same time, their ways of representing ethnographic phenomena reveal patterns of sorting and explaining which will be examined in what follows.

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